Praise Puts 'Tyrannosaur' Filmmaker In The Spotlight

Writer-director Paddy Considine's debut film, Tyrannosaur, is a favorite of critics this year. It's generating Oscar buzz and has earned Sundance Festival awards for Considine's directing and the film's lead actors. the film tackles dark themes like death and spousal abuse, but a message of hope manages to shine through. Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin talks to Paddy Considine about writing and directing the film, which is in theaters now.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A lot of us go to the movies to escape, to keep company with compelling characters who take us to another world for a while. The world that British director Paddy Considine has created in his film "Tyrannosaur" is a dark one, populated by broken people and violence. But amidst the chaos, or maybe because of it, Considine's main characters manage to find friendship, even redemption.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TYRANNOSAUR")

OLIVIA COLMAN: (As Hannah) What about your family?

PETER MULLAN: (As Joseph) Nobody.

COLMAN: (As Hannah) There must be somebody.

MULLAN: (As Joseph) No. My best friend's dying of cancer. I killed my dog.

COLMAN: (As Hannah) You killed your dog?

MULLAN: (As Joseph) My buddy.

MARTIN: "Tyrannosaur" won three awards at this year's Sundance Film Festival, a coup for this actor-turned-director and his debut film.

PADDY CONSIDINE: You know, I wrote it in about a week and...

MARTIN: Really? A week?

CONSIDINE: Yeah. Well, it was very fast, but I think it was a lot of years of things that have been pent up in me, lots of questions and lots of things unanswered and trying to make sense of different aspects of my life and my parents. I think "Tyrannosaur" was just the purist expression that I could muster and get in to let stuff out there, I suppose.

MARTIN: Let's talk about the main characters, Joseph and Hannah. You say that there were echoes of your parents in here. Are these those people? Are these representations of your parents?

CONSIDINE: Well, sort of. I mean, you know, my - there was no way - Hannah's relationship to James in the film was no way a reflection of how my parents' relationship was at all. So that's why...

MARTIN: We should mention that she was in a - she's in an abusive relationship with her husband.

CONSIDINE: Yeah. That's right. But, you know, as far as my father's concerned, it was more to do with the fact that, you know, he kind of had a history of aggressive behavior outside the house, you know? And I was always trying to figure him out in where this sort of rage came from and why he could be very antisocial. So that was there. I mean, my mother, really, if anything, is the tyrannosaur in the movie.

The character that Joseph explains as being his wife, and he describes her as having diabetes, being blind and losing her legs and stuff like that, you know, to that disease and, you know, that happened to my mother.

MARTIN: I want to talk about violence because it's a violent film, and there are a couple of scenes that are hard to watch.

CONSIDINE: Yeah. Well, if you watch them again, you'll see that it's off camera, you know, and it's all slightly out of frame. I mean, it's only unnervingly violent to people because it's about something. I mean, year after year, we get films where people are being slain and blown up in all kinds of different ways. You know, bodies are being disposed on the screen and people don't care because it's presented in a kind of heightened cartoon sense, if you like, whereas "Tyrannosaur" isn't. It's dealing with - they're not real people, but they're certainly real circumstances.

MARTIN: There is a spiritual component. There's a religious component to this film, and it is crystallized in that first interaction between Hannah, the other primary character in the film, and Joseph. He's drunk, and he's wandered into the thrift store where Hannah volunteers. Let's take a listen to that clip.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TYRANNOSAUR")

COLMAN: (As Hannah) Father God, I'm asking you now to touch this man and to reach into his heart. He's in pain, Lord. I believe you've brought him here to me to help him find his way. He seems lost, Lord. Give him the strength to find a way. And let him know that whatever is troubling him, he can confide in you and ask your forgiveness.

MARTIN: It's a very powerful scene. We should say he's crawled under a rack of clothing and is hiding. And Hannah does not hesitate. I found that interesting. She doesn't call the police. She doesn't yell at him, question why he's there. She just immediately engages with him.

CONSIDINE: Yeah. Friends of mine from my hometown who were Christians - there was one lady in particular who's a friend of mine, and she runs a shop very much like Hannah in the film. And she told me stories of guys who would go into the shop and verbally abuse her, drunk people, and they'd break down crying. And they'd ask her to pray for them or she'd volunteer to pray for them. Well, they'd come back the next day and ask for forgiveness for behaving so badly towards her.

Now, she told me something really interesting. She said, all the time that I was praying for these people, she goes, I was also praying to God that I would be safe in these circumstances. So on the outside, she looked very sympathetic, but on the inside, she was afraid. But she wouldn't - she couldn't allow herself to show that to these people. I think the film plays with that idea, as well, of the immediate assumptions we make. As soon as we meet somebody, we make all these assumptions based on...

MARTIN: Well, speaking of which, these assumptions, I thought, obviously, Joseph and Hannah were going to fall in love.

CONSIDINE: Yeah.

MARTIN: I thought they would have a romantic relationship, and they didn't.

CONSIDINE: Well, no. They didn't have a romantic relationship, but they fell in love. They were deeply in love. I mean, that's the victory of the film for me. I told everybody when I was making it, I was making a love story.

MARTIN: Did you?

CONSIDINE: And I did. Oh, yeah. It is a love story. I mean, it's just not a love story where people jump into bed with each other like everybody thinks that's love or lust or romance. It's not a romance like that. It's a bigger love than what we would expect from a movie.

MARTIN: I'm speaking with writer and director Paddy Considine. His new film, "Tyrannosaur," is in theaters now. I have to mention this scene because it is a lovely scene. It's the wake. Joseph's friend has died.

CONSIDINE: Yeah.

MARTIN: And there's a gathering of his loved ones to celebrate his life. And the two lead characters, Hannah and Joseph, attend. They're both in a fragile state. Let's listen to a little bit of that scene.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TYRANNOSAUR")

MULLAN: (As Joseph) We going to give Jack a proper sendoff or what?

(Singing) Hey, Jack. We (unintelligible). We miss you. We want you back. You don't just touch our hearts, oh, no, you steal it.

MARTIN: I wonder how you came to that scene, understanding that there would need to be a moment of levity. And there is such joy in that scene juxtaposed with the pain that was seen in the film. Did you know you wanted to do that in the context of this man's death?

CONSIDINE: Yeah, because most funerals I've been to have been a right old laugh.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CONSIDINE: You know, I...

MARTIN: You go to different funerals.

CONSIDINE: Yeah. I lost my cousin earlier this year, and he was my age, and he was a beautiful man. And he died too young, and it was very sad. But we had a fantastic celebration at night, and all the kids had a disco and a party. You know, it's a great, old celebration of life, really. And we shot that sequence, and I remember the editor, Pia, was putting it together, and she said, this stuff's great but, you know, they drop character, because I just basically ran the camera on them. We played a load of songs. We had a disco. They all got pissed...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CONSIDINE: ...and so did I. And we had a great party. And it was wonderful. It was the highlight for me.

MARTIN: This is the first film that you've directed. What did you learn about filmmaking through this process?

CONSIDINE: I'll put it this way. When I made it, I think that I found probably what I was supposed to be doing all along was directing films. There was definitely a sense of that. I don't think I've ever felt as alive as an artist or whatever than I was on the set of "Tyrannosaur." And I can honestly say I made the exact film that I wanted to make, which is great.

MARTIN: That's writer and director Paddy Considine. His film "Tyrannosaur" is in theaters now. Paddy, it's been a real pleasure. Thanks for being with us.

CONSIDINE: No. Thank you very much. And, yeah, it's been really nice chatting to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.